Winter sky

Simple story this time. I was out for a short walk, the usual short route because it was a bit cold. As I headed through a park I saw some interesting cloud cover moving in. So I walked over to the lakeside portion and stopped along the fence to photograph over the lake. I photographed with my P7700 as a horizontal (above, converted to black and white), even taking some snaps on my Yashica Lynx 14e with yes, black and white film. I then walked west about 150 yards and made some more photos, this time vertical with the P7700, a few bracketed frames for the HDR look (below, converted to black and white) and them with my iPhone 5s (one an be seen on my iPHone feed here).

I call these moments gifts. Some say luck, or chance. But the fact is I was out there, saw it and recorded it. You can’t win if you don’t play.


I had a bee problem


Ordinarily, I like bees. They fill an extremely important role in nature. And lately, we appear to be in a honey bee crisis. If I had property I would consider an apiary. But I don't.

My problem was that bees had taken over a small birdhouse that rests about six feet from my sit spot at my back patio. At first I thought it was interesting. I felt no threat. As the summer progressed I watched as more bees appeared and the hive started to emerge out the house opening.

Still no problem. Until one morning I went back to sit for a few moments and noticed a spider web, nicely backlit. Having only my iPhone I tried to make an interesting photo (and failed). In the course of this, I felt something on my nose, brushed at it, and it stung. On the tip of my freakin' nose. Ouch.

So, that was almost it. I was willing to forgive and forget. But a few days later I was hammering on the frame the birdhouse is attached to, attempting to fix a whirligig post and the bees started swarming out at me. I ran like I was 40.

Online research led me to believe these were not honey bees. In fact, it indicated that it could be the rogue African bees and cited several examples of such bees overtaking birdhouses.

Sadly, I chose the chemical solution. The first spraying, with "flying insect spray," was good for a few hours but the next evening I noticed they were still going in and out. I got some stuff intended for bees, the kind that sprays like Silly String for about 20 feet. It took two dosings. But the bees were gone.

The birdhouse, at this point was worthless, with a hive built inside. So the next nice evening suitable  for a fire I set the inactive house on the flames and watched it burn. As the sides fell away I could see an entire hive-like ball within it. Sigh.



When I drew the line between "real" camera photos and my iPhone photos on this blog I didn't think the line would blur so quickly.

Last weekend I was out puttering about in my manly yard duties when I saw a squirrel hustle up to a recent cut in a Maple tree. I didn't know that Red Squirrels found the sap very tasty. I learned that in my extensive Goog, err, research, it's not uncommon for them to cut the bark to feed on the sap. That also explains the various spots on my driveway. Personally, I found the sap tasteless.

So here was a virtual fountain of sap provided unwittingly by me when I trimmed the maple earlier in the season.

But that's not the point.

When I saw the squirrel the only camera equipment I had with me was my iPhone (4). So, I grabbed my cheap 8x power binoculars (always handy for birding) and tried to it steady on the phone while I braced against the garage and made a few frames. See photo above.

The squirrel didn't seem to be stopping any time soon so I went inside and grabbed by Nikon P7700 and managed to sneak to within about 10 feet at 200mm. See photo below.

So what's the difference? The tools, yes. The light, no. The time of day, not really. Focal length, OK, maybe an edge to the P7700.

The only difference is that I found the iPhone photo to be more voyeuristic, primarily because of the hard vignetting on the image.

What do you think?

Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg

I have a Facebook page. I don't advertise it as it's for my personal use. If I don't know you personally, I won't friend you. If you never post, I unfriend you. Simple.

I use it primarily to stay in touch with my many friends from over the years. No other platform allows me to connect with the good parts of my past.

But with the good comes the bad. And that would be the fact that if you post photos to Facebook, they can do pretty much whatever they want with them, including making money and you don't even get a thank you. Twitter and Pinterest are a whole  'nother story.

Since I became intrigued with iPhone photography a little over a year ago, I had searched and found, I thought, a home at Instagram. I liked the interface, the local connections and the worldwide view of things. I even made a few friends and had a growing following.

However, it was grossly overcrowded with amateurs. No offense. I couldn't stand the fish-faced, soft porn, cute cat, adorable puppy, sunset photos that made up 95% of the feed. But, it did allow you to pick and choose whose photos you wanted to see and provided a way to expand to their friends so that my home feed was an incredible array of diverse, intelligent and breathtaking (or not), photographs.

In mid-December, 2012, Instagram sent out a statement that essentially said that in the near future, their policy would be "we can now do whatever we want with your photos, including selling them to advertisers and you don't get squat."

That's good for the amateurs who get the big thrill of seeing their work published. But it's bad for professionals who would lose control of and compensation for their work. I decided to jump and dumped my account. Some may call that a hasty decision in light of fact that a few days after the shit hit the fan, Instagram retracted their proposal and told everyone not to worry, they didn't really mean it.

I have heard from industry sources, although this is pure conjecture, that Instagram may have lost 50% or so of their subscribers in the week following their statement. But in their defense, how the hell can you make money if you don't optimize your assets? Was splitting the ad revenue with the photographer even considered?

I imagine this nightmare scenario. Instagram (Facebook) sells one of my photos with a recognizable person in it to an advertiser. The advertiser publishes it in an ad. The person in the photo sees the image and calls the advertiser to say, "Hey, I never signed a model release or gave permission to have my photo used in an advertisement. Advertiser says "go talk to Instagram." Instagram says "go talk to the photographer, he agreed to the terms of service that allowed us to sell the image." Guess who gets sued?

So, I began looking for a new venue. I decided to take a shot with the most promising of the group, Starmatic. They say that I would not lose control of my work. In fact, in the days following the Instagram Exodus, Starmatic's servers crashed from the sheer volume of people moving to their service.

Sadly, I found it lacking. The interface was clunky and I never saw the interaction - no sense of community. I posted half-a-dozen photos with no response and stopped.

Which brings me to where I am today. That is, I have set up a feed on this just for my iPhone photos. That will allow me to share these photos, with my Facebook friends, or wherever, without losing ownership, by linking to my page. Yes, it means that on Facebook someone must click a link to see the post.  Sorry about that.

Just look at this graphic on people trying to regain control of their work.

So thank you, Mark, for making me think about all of this. I understand. It's not all about you. It's all about me.

Getting my geek on

Along Cornfield Ave., with my Nikon P7700.I don't usually start this way, but here's a little back story on this post.

I attended the Center for Civil War Photography's 2012 seminar at the Antietam National Military Park. I had missed attending for several years, as the fall is the busiest time of year for our studio. This year, just weeks after the 150th anniversary of the battle, they went back to Antietam. And so did I.

When people asked me how it was, I can only describe it as a GeekFest for Baby Boomers. Everyone was consumed with the Civil War and photography. For many it was more one than the other, but in most cases it was both. I met collectors, curators, archivists, teachers, photographers, researchers, students, museum directors and the garden variety geek-of-all-trades. One guy even took a bus from Cadillac, Michigan to attend. And he’s done that for ten seminars.

For the most part it was a study of the battle and the photographs made in the aftermath of the battle by A "leag bug" on a Napolean near the Visitor's Center.Alexander Gardner, an employee of the famous Matthew Brady. Most of the photos taken during the Civil War were made in stereo, a parlor craze at the time. Most of the photos you see in books today are reproductions of one side or the other of the stereo image. Countless hours (and books) have been dedicated to these photographs, finding the exact locations of where the photos were made. Some have studied in which order they were made, and others the precise time of day based on shadows. Tell me that’s not geeky.

Accordingly, the evening presentations at the hotel were made with 3D slide shows, where we all donned our paper glasses with red and blue lenses. On the battlefield tours, we walked with a new book, Antietam in 3D that presented all the known images taken immediately after the battle. And yes, we wore our glasses as the tour progressed, lining up the photos with the present day location.

It was such an eye-opening and rejuvenating experience for me. I brought all sort of camera equipment. I took my pinhole and 35mm digital equipment. But I ended up using was my new Nikon P7700 and my iPhone. I was toBloody Lane, in 3D.o busy paying attention to the visual/historical/community of it all, that I felt I could only made superficial photos. But I think I got lucky on a few, shown here.

Get your geek on. Don’t miss the opportunity to do what you love.

Special thanks to my personal blog editor, Vernest Lambert Watkins. I couldn't have done it without their contributions in fixing my stupid mistakes.

Burnside Bridge. With an iPhone.